The Complex, Childish Identity Politics of Elizabeth Warren’s Native Heritage

Hugh Fox
October 20, 2018

Warren's move has infuriated progressives and Native Americans, with several of the latter stating she harmed Native communities by muddying the waters about what constitutes tribal identity.

An in-depth Globe review of Warren's professional history, including interviews with 31 professors on the Harvard Law hiring committee who offered her a job in 1993, found that Warren was viewed as a white woman by the hiring committees at every institution that employed her.

Readers will know the background already: Elizabeth Warren claimed to be Native American while she was a law professor at Harvard despite (a) appearing about as Anglo-white as one can appear and (b) having scant evidence that her claim of Native American heritage was true. Based on these results, her father's parents would have had to identify her from her 1/512 native heritage. She said she's troubled by the divisive rhetoric of President Donald Trump and politicians who support him, which distracts from debate on important topics like ballooning health-care costs. When truth and evidence - or a DNA test, branded "junk science" by his counselor Kellyanne Conway on Monday - get in the way, he will pounce.

"Pocahontas (the bad version), sometimes referred to as Elizabeth Warren, is getting slammed", Trump tweeted of his potential 2020 challenger.

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Lindsey Graham said he plans to take a DNA test to prove he has more Cherokee heritage than Elizabeth Warren. She insists that she never benefited from it, and that she did it in hopes of networking with others who have Native American roots. "And Trump can say whatever he wants about me, but mocking Native Americans or any group in order to try to get at me? Oklahoma - home to the 120,000 citizens of Cherokee Nation - leads the country in prescription painkiller abuse".

Yet there's a reason why the Democratic senator's declaration was met with harsh criticism, including from the Cherokee Nation's secretary of state., who said Warren was "undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage".

The DNA test, she Tuesday in a "Tucker Carlson Tonight" interview, "did prove that she wasn't the Cherokee Indian that she was claiming to be for so long". She is more impactful and useful if she acknowledges the privilege that comes from being White and advocates to dismantle the systems that sustain the oppression of some over others. 'The tribes and only the tribes determine citizenship'.

The DNA test released by Warren on Monday suggested she had at least one indigenous ancestor dating back at least six generations and possibly as many as 10. "I think the fact is it's an issue that's been attached to her since 2012", he said.

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Mullin is one of two Native Americans who serve in Congress. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) is a member of the Chickasaw Nation. Commentators for the Washington Post and Slate, meanwhile, sidestepped the central fact of the story-namely that Warren once again looks like a fool-and preferred to insist that the "Pocahontas" nickname is somehow a racial slur.

"It's problematic in the sense that the general American imagination has this fascination with native people, but overlooks what's been done to them", Raquel Halsey, the head of the North American Indian Center of Boston, told the Herald.

Then, a Stanford University genetics professor and adviser for and 23andMe analyzes her test. "They singled her out, Warren later acknowledged, because she had listed herself as a minority in an Association of American Law Schools directory".

She faces Republican Geoff Diehl, who co-chaired Trump's MA presidential campaign, in November.

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